The Virginia Interfaith Center has been preparing for congressional visits during the lame duck session, briefing some of Virginia’s faith leaders, and is gearing up for the 2011 Virginia General Assembly session that will begin January 12. The Virginia Interfaith Center has particularly focused on adding many new endorsers of the Half in Ten pledge this month, including a legislator, leaders within faith communities, and also several statewide organizations. Increasing public awareness and advocacy on the issue of reducing poverty is critical.
Endorsement by elected officials
Virginia State Sen. Donald McEachin has endorsed the Half in Ten pledge. Sen. McEachin is known for his hard work on issues of economic justice. Having his support will help expand both public awareness and the political will to accomplish the Half in Ten goal. Sen. McEachin will host an event for other legislators interested in reducing poverty as a way to gain their endorsement.
Endorsement by leaders of the faith community
Virginia Interfaith Center CEO Doug Smith joined Director of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light Trieste Lockwood and policy analyst Kate Eggleston to brief statewide leaders from the faith community on policy issues including Half in Ten priorities. Several leaders of the faith community endorsed the Half in Ten pledge including Charlene Kammerer, bishop of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church; Lee Parker, regional minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Virginia; Dr. Imad Damaj, president of the Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs; Bishop Jim Mauney, bishop of the Virginia Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church; David McKee, executive president of the Presbyterian Synod of the Mid-Atlantic; and Rev. Jonathan Barton, general minister of the Virginia Council of Churches. The Virginia Interfaith Center is proud that these faith leaders have personally pledged to endorse the goal and is confident that their endorsements will strengthen the Half in Ten work the Center focuses on.
Endorsement by organizations
United Virginia, a grassroots engagement organization, has endorsed the pledge to cut poverty in half in 10 years. The work of the organization directly affects low-income populations, focusing on creating economic and community development through various microenterprise projects to under-resourced populations in Virginia.
The Virginia Community Action Partnership, a statewide membership association for Virginia’s 33 nonprofit private and public community action agencies, has also endorsed the pledge. VACAP is composed of 29 local area agencies and three statewide agencies. Together these 32 agencies provide various services throughout the commonwealth.
VACAP promotes the EITC through the Virginia CASH Campaign (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope). Collectively, the mission is to raise awareness of the EITC among all eligible taxpayers and to educate workers, employees, clients, and customers of the importance of obtaining all tax credits to which they are entitled. Virginia’s movement of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, has also endorsed the pledge. The organization works on legislation to accomplish one of the key goals of Half in Ten—ensuring economic security for all Americans. The AFL’s goal to protect the rights and benefits of workers makes them a natural lead coalition partner.
The Virginia Interfaith Center will continue to educate its members about the connections between federal and state legislation in the next week with a specific focus on General Assembly bills that are being tracked using the www.richmondsunlight.com website. Additionally, the Virginia Interfaith Center will work to add no less than 10 new legislator signers in the next 30 days to the Half in Ten pledge.